In January I began following a whole food nutrition program called Lean With Amanda. I had incredible results shedding extra pounds and body fat (particularly in the belly and hips) and so did my girlfriends who joined me in the program. Along the way, I learned A LOT about nutrition that I wish someone had taught me long ago. This post was not paid for or sponsored by the Lean With Amanda program in any way. All opinions are entirely my own.
I’m not one for fad diets so when a girlfriend mentioned that I should try an intermittent fasting program called Lean With Amanda I wasn’t down with it. Paleo, Keto, Whole 30 — there are enough diets out there and, in my mind, intermittent fasting was just a trendy younger sister to those diets. I was content to continue with the healthy eating and exercise regimen that had served me well so far.
Despite a strict regimen of regular exercise and what I thought was eating healthy, however, the pounds were adding up. It all seemed to be landing in my mid-section. After I turned 45 my usual diet and exercise didn’t seem to be as effective. I chalked it up to hormones and a natural consequence of aging so I was doing my best to accept the changes. I didn’t like it but I didn’t think jumping on a diet program was going to help. Meanwhile I saw that friend again. She looked great. Lean. Face glow. I complemented her and asked what she was doing. She said she had just finished a round of Lean With Amanda. My previous skepticism made way for optimism. I was motivated to give it a shot.
Why Lean With Amanda?
Lean With Amanda is more than just a dieting strategy. It is a seven-week nutrition education program suitable for any adult man or woman. Amanda is a clinically trained dietitian with 20 years of experience in a hospital setting. I learned a lot about my body’s nutritional needs specifically how much protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber my body needs everyday. Following the basic tenets of the program caused me to make a lot of positive lifestyle changes like meal prepping on the weekends, nutrient tracking, and (shocker!) eating carbs again!
At its heart, Lean With Amanda is a gluten and dairy-free whole food nutrition program using an intermittent fasting protocol that incorporates advanced nutritional techniques like carb cycling and extended fasting. Believe me, if you had asked me in December if I would fast for 24 hours I would of said HELL NO!! I like to eat three square meals a day. Daily exercise is a component of the program but any kind of movement is the goal. Following the diet is number one, exercise is secondary.
There are different variations of intermittent fasting but the most popular format is to consume all of your food in an 8 hour window and fast (abstain from eating) for a 16 hour period to give your digestive system rest. For me, that means eating my first meal at 11:30a.m. and finishing dinner by 7:30p.m. on a daily basis. The program allows for fluctuation (because life happens). Sometimes I finish dinner earlier, sometimes later but for the most part that’s the 8 hour eating window I adhere to. This breaks down to eating two meals (lunch and dinner) and a snack each day.
Ironically, I did not begin eating breakfast until my 30s. I taught myself to eat breakfast in my 30s because I wanted to make healthy lifestyle changes and I was always told, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” More and more studies are showing that perhaps that is not the case. Eating my first meal at 11:30 was a bit of an adjustment at first because after a decade of eating breakfast my body was anticipating it, but the transition was easy enough. It’s always been my natural inclination.
When I am fasting, I am drinking water with electrolytes or unsweetened tea. I’m not a coffee drinker but black coffee and a concoction called “bulletproof coffee” is acceptable during the fast. Electrolyte water is the key to fasting success! I drank a lot of plain water before I started the program but I learned that you need electrolytes to replenish minerals in the body and keep the hangry away. When we say our blood sugar is low and we feel headachey and foggy when we don’t eat — that’s really the product of being low in sodium, potassium, and magnesium. When you drink electrolyte water you are preventing that brain fog feeling. An added benefit to the fast is that your water intake increases!
The first major change I made to be successful with intermittent fasting was getting in the habit of prepping all of our weekly meals on the weekend. Before starting Lean I had gotten into the bad habit of routinely eating dinner after 8 p.m. I wasn’t thinking about dinner until it was time to actually be eating it. If I wanted to eat all of my meals in an eight hour window I had to finish dinner earlier and that meant doing some advance planning. An added bonus to meal prepping is that it results in less waste of groceries. When you shop intentionally and with a plan you are not buying extra produce that doesn’t get used before it goes bad in the produce drawer!
Second, I had to get accustomed to logging all of my food in an app that tracks my calories and macronutrients: the amount of protein, carbs, fat, and fiber I’ve consumed. Amanda begins the program by telling you the parameters to set in the app so you have personalized calorie and macronutrient targets. At the end of every day you submit your log and a member of her team gives guidance about how you are doing. I would say this is mostly a cheerleading exercise but it is helpful when you realize what you think might be a really bad day is not as bad as you thought. Also, after years of hearing how carbs are bad, tracking my carb intake made me realize how much (and how little on regular carb days) I was actually having. More on that below. I ‘ll admit, by the end of the seven weeks food logging was tedious.
The Lean program implements carb cycling to confuse your body’s metabolic process — when you switch up what you are doing you aren’t giving your body a chance to adapt. There are low carb days on two consecutive days of the week and a third earlier in the week. On a low carb day consumption stays under 50 net carbs. The other days are what is referred to as regular carb days. On a regular carb day you aim to eat a minimum of 100 carbs. The idea is that you consume carbs from whole foods (fruits and vegetables) and complex carbohydrates like rice, quinoa, beans, etc to achieve your carbohydrate goals. Carb cycling is not at all confusing once you understand the concept of what a low carb and regular carb day looks like. Amanda provides a weekly calendar so you know just what your goal is for the day and her daily morning message serves as a reminder.
Adjusting to eating carbs was a major lifestyle change for me — for the better! For the last decade I had made carbs largely off-limits. I hadn’t realized how many carbohydrate rich foods I had cut out of my diet. The challenge to eat carbs was so freeing. Foods that I had previously shunned away from were fair game. I began making gluten and dairy-free muffins that I could incorporate into my diet as an afternoon snack and boost my carb count. Accepting that eating carbs is not inherently bad for you — as long as they are the right kind — was a positive outcome of doing the Lean program.
Extended fasting is probably the most controversial aspect of this program and a topic I cover in more detail in this post. The program does not require it but I challenged myself to give extended fasting a try. On my first week trying I fasted for 21 hours, the next week I completed a 24 hour fast. Now I’ve adopted a weekly Sunday fast into my lifestyle. When you do an extended fast your body gets to a stage called autophagy. In autophagy your body burns fat cells for fuel. Damaged cellular matter is the first to go. When you put your body in a state of autophagy you are essentially causing it to cleanse itself of toxins. Many people think of it as a reboot — a deep cleaning of your cells. Benefits include a clearer state of mind, alertness, and high energy. I can say I felt all of those things! Extended fasting taught me that we really don’t need as much food as we think. Water and unsweetened tea or coffee (with electrolytes) can be everything you need to function during an extended fast.
I’m relatively slim but my weight was accumulating in typical problem areas for women, the hips and waist. When you fast, your body is using your fat for fuel so you will see a huge difference in your fat storage zones. By the end of the program, I lost 5 pounds in seven weeks but more significantly I dropped TWO INCHES from my hips and ONE INCH from my waist. Those numbers are huge! And you will experience a positive lifestyle change. Improved mood, higher quality sleep, and increased energy!
If you join Lean With Amanda YOU WILL SEE RESULTS. Use code SDD331 for a discount off your your session.
Some of My Favorite Products To Use During The Lean Program
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